The Biblical Day of Rest Should be Kept God's Way. When Does It Start?
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The Biblical Day of Rest - When Does It Start?
How Long Does It Last?

The Biblical Day of Rest is important to those who have a regard for scripture. If we want to obey God in our Sabbath observance we need to know when to observe it.

This site supports the Biblical day of rest being on the seventh-day Sabbath from what we know as sunset Friday to Sunset Saturday. Historically and currently, within Sabbatarianism, there have been and are different beliefs as to when in the day the Sabbath starts. There is a recent study (I first saw it in October 2011) proposing that the Sabbath or any day starts at sunrise rather than sunset.

My burden is light

If you have received a copy of this study on the Biblical day of rest as it has been distributed in a handout you will recognize this from the cover:

Some advocates further understand that the word "day" only refers to the light part of a 24-hour period - the time between sunrise and sunset and that therefore the Sabbath day is only during daylight hours.

The length of the Sabbath day would then vary considerably:

  1. Near the equator - it would be approximately 12 hours long and vary little through the year.
  2. In higher or lower latitudes for example close to 49 degrees north (Canada-U.S. border) where I live it would vary from about 7 hours in length in the winter to about 17 hours in length in the summer.
  3. Above the Arctic circle it would have a most dramatic effect. There, in the winter, there would be no Sabbath at all for months. Each seventh day that comes along would not have a light portion and therefore no requirement for sabbath observance as the sun doesn't even come up. In the summer, the Sabbath would last for the entire 24 hours. Or would it continue for months with no sunset to mark its end?
  4. At some times of the year people in one part of the world would have a Sabbath just a few minutes long while people in other parts of the world would have a Sabbath of just a few minutes short of 24 hours.

The study I referred to above is titled "My Burden is Light." The point it is trying to make is that the Sabbath begins with the light (sunrise) and perhaps includes only the light hours.

This series of pages will go through the study and examine carefully what it is saying. There are some serious issues with "My Burden is Light" that are not apparent on first reading. By allowing the Bible to explain itself and define its own terms we can arrive at the correct timing for the Biblical day of rest.

This first page looks at the introduction of "My Burden is Light" which is reproduced below (with only some minor formatting changes) in the shaded portion. The examination and commentary of it follows. Succeeding pages will carefully examine each point. These will be posted and linked in a chain as the reviews are completed. If you wish to be notified as they are made available, contact me.

Here is the introduction to "My Burden is Light":

When Does the Day Begin?

Common belief according to the widely used Roman Calendar is that when the clock strikes midnight, a new day begins. According to the Jewish Calendar, the new day begins at sunset. Others teach that a new day begins at sunrise.

The question is, "when does a day begin according to God"s Calendar? What does He reveal to us through His inspired Word on this most important subject? Let us begin by discussing a central passage on this subject, which is found in the book of Genesis:

"In the beginning God created the Heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day." (Gen 1:1-5)

Notice that, during the creation week, the first thing God created was "light." When He created "light" He separated it from darkness (i.e. He separated it from "night") and called it "day." Through His inspired Word, God tells us that "light" is "day" (and "darkness" is "night"). In Gen 1:5 we are further told that "the evening and morning" were the first "day." Therefore, both "evening and morning" must be part of the "day" and not the "night." This is what is plainly stated in the Word of God!

Gen 1:5 is an easy scripture to understand IF we allow the Bible to interpret itself. However, in most cases, it is also a grossly misunderstood and misrepresented scripture. As we proceed, keep in mind that God called the light "day" and He called the dark "night." Never lose sight of the fact that scripture tells us that "the evening [H6153] and the morning were the first day." Scripture does NOT state that "night [H3915] and morning" constitute a day, but "evening [H6153] and morning" constitute a day. This is important to understand!

Please clear your mind from pre-conceived ideas, and follow along with the Biblical explanation being given hereunder. Please be sure to prove all things as you go along, and use the Bible as your authority. [1 Thess 5:21]

Gen 1:5 tells us that "evening and morning" make up a day. We must understand that the word "evening [H6153]" is NOT referring to "night [H3915], but is in fact referring to the afternoon period between noon and sunset. We will here give irrefutable proof to support this Biblical fact. Please carefully study the following examples taken directly from scripture which demonstrate that "evening" is referring to a time between noon and sunset. The first example we shall discuss refers to the offerings which the Israelites were required to perform on a daily basis.

Following is my commentary on the above. This commentary represents my best understanding of the subject of the timing of the Biblical day of rest but please note that it is just that. I do not claim to be completely correct. You need to study this and any subject for yourself and make your own decision.

The study "My Burden is Light" points out from Genesis 1:1-5:

Darkness = night  
Light = day = morning + evening

The idea is that "day" refers to just the light portion of a 24-hour period and that the day is composed of two sections, morning (from sunrise to noon while the sun is ascending in the sky) and evening (from noon to sunset while the sun is descending in the sky.)

This sounds very logical from the passage and while there is some merit in what the study says, obviously there are some problems with it and many questions that need answers.

Here are some of the questions that need to be resolved:

  1. Does a "day" (Biblically) refer only to the daylight hours or can it also refer to a 24-hour period, a complete light and dark cycle?
  2. Does "even" refer only to part of the day as Genesis 1:5 suggests ("The evening and the morning were the first day.") or can it also refer to the dark part of the 24-hour cycle?
  3. Does a date, for example, Nisan 14, only refer to the day/light portion of the 24-hour cycle? If so, where does the dark part of the 24-hour cycle fit on the calendar?
  4. Why are "evening" and "morning" mentioned in that order in Genesis 1:5 and other verses if they occur in the reverse order during the light part of the day?

Other questions will, no doubt, come up as this study progresses and will be added above.

A Few Points to Make About the Biblical Day of Rest:

  1. God did not create darkness; darkness is merely the absence of light. This is the same as cold is the absence of heat.
  2. Light and darkness themselves are physical qualities and not periods of time. We can have complete darkness in a cave in the middle of the day. The Bible though does identify periods of time (day and night) with those qualities.
  3. The Bible also uses "night" to describe the absence of light:
  4. "And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever." (Rev 22:5)

There will be a "night" as in a time between sunset and sunrise but it will not be dark. Why not? Because "the Lord God giveth them light." It seems this will be light independent of the sun (directly from Him?) and, while the verse is not saying there won't be a sun, there won't be a need for the sun (or candle) in order to have light.

Could it be that the light referred to in Gen 1:3 is not sunlight (the sun is not made until verse 16) but another form of light directly from God? If there will be no darkness in the new earth after sin, why would there have been darkness on the original earth before sin?

If there was no sun till the fourth day how could we say day and night anyway or determine how long they are? Perhaps day and night cycles are at the same time on other planets (another subject) so that the Sabbath is coordinated throughout God's universe (one-voice). That would make sense. But now I am getting into speculation. The point is that there are many questions. Let's get back to the word.

Words

We, of course, use "day" with both meanings. We say "day and night" to refer to the light and dark portions and we also use "day" to refer to a complete 24-hour period.

We commonly use "afternoon" to refer to the hours from noon to sunset and "evening" to refer to the hours after sunset until midnight and then refer to "early morning" or even the "wee hours of the morning." But the Bible clearly uses "evening" and "even," in many cases, to refer to the time from noon to sunset.

Here is the terminology we are dealing with and trying to sort out:

Biblical day terms

It is not necessarily that any of the terms are wrong - words have different meanings and applications. A single word can have more than one meaning in Hebrew and Greek as well as in English - that's why Strong's concordance has so many definitions.

What we want to do is understand them so that we can know the timing of the Biblical day of rest. Here is an example of how strange it can get:

"Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world." (John 11:9)

If Jesus was giving a Biblical definition of how time periods work, then we (in any part of the world) would have to divide our daylight hours from sunrise to sunset into twelve periods. Those hours would vary greatly from one area to another on the globe. In some northern locations in the winter where the period between sunrise and sunset is very brief you could conceivably have hours that are shorter than minutes. Strange timekeeping indeed!

No, He was not defining time periods. Rather, He was using the system of the culture He was in to make a statement regarding getting your work done while it is light. Compare with John 9:4. The Bible also refers to watches in the night. These varied over the history of Judaism and Jesus' reference to them (Mark 13:35) was not meant to define the time periods.

What we need to do now is to go through each of the 13 points made in "My Burden is Light." But before that we need some background on word meanings; we need to look at word meanings, allowing the Bible to define its own terms and thus be its own interpreter. Then we will be able to better understand the correct times to start and end the Biblical day of rest.

Here is a diagram of time-period terminology that I think is helpful:

Biblical Day of Rest

So a 24-hour day has dark (night) and light (day) portions and the day had morning and evening (or between the evenings). Some would like to vary this a little by defining night as from the end of twilight after sunset to the beginning of twilight before sunrise. Then night and day would not be of equal length.

While a working day (light portion) starts when it gets light or at sunrise, a calendar (24-hour) day starts at the end of the previous day or at sunset.

There is also the factor of the "night watches" which were called the evening, midnight, cockcrowing and morning watches in reference to the time periods from 6-9pm, 9pm-midnight, midnight-3am and 3-6am respectively.

Think of "day" in relation to "year." The Hebrews had two "years" starting at different times: (We might speak of a calendar year, fiscal year, agricultural year, school year etc.)

  1. The civil year started in the fall at the Feast of trumpets on Tishri 1. It was also called Rosh Hashana meaning the head of the year.
  2. The spiritual year started in the spring at Nisan 1 (Exo 12:2)

Similarly, there are two start times for days:

  1. Practically, at sunrise or we might think of it as when we arise after a sleep to do what we need to in the day before retiring for another sleep. We tend to think of each day, for practical purposes, as one continuous period from when we rise in the morning until we retire for our sleep.
  2. Spiritually, at sunset to begin the next 24-hour period, the next date on the calendar.

Man has changed his modern practice in regard to this by adopting midnight as the time to start each calendar day.

Here is a list of all the pages involved in this study with links to each. If you do not see a link beside a page, it is not ready or uploaded yet. I am actively working on these pages at this point (Nov. 2011) and will upload each as it is ready. Each page will have a link at the end to the next page in the study.

Introduction (the page you are on)
     /biblical-day-of-rest

Background pages:
Word Meanings in Genesis 1:1
     /word-meanings
The Creation Story in Genesis - a close look at Genesis 1:1-5
     /creation-story-genesis
How the Hebrew Calendar uses the words "Day," "Light" "Morning" and "Evening"
     /hebrew-calendar
Further Evidence for a Sunset Sabbath Start Time
     /sabbath-start
Sunset Start to the Sabbath - a Diagram
     /sunset-start-sabbath-diagram
An explanation of Deuteronomy 21:23 - a translation issue:
     /deuteronomy-21-23
Does the "day of death" always refer to death during daylight hours?
     /birth-death-day
When to observe the Sabbath - some thought questions.
     /observe-sabbath
When was Passover? - where does Nisan 14 fit? NEW PAGE - 120108
     /observe-sabbath
Epiphosko - Dusk or Dawn?
     - not done yet

Point-by-point responses to the "My Burden is Light" study:
Point 1 - Noon to Sunset Evening
     - not done yet
Point 2 - Noon to Sunset Evening
     - not done yet
Point 3 - Noon to Sunset Evening
     - not done yet
Note: Points 1-3 in "My Burden is Light" merely point out that evening and morning are used in scripture to refer to the time periods from noon to sunset and from sunrise to noon respectively. There is no problem with that so I am leaving comment on these pages until I have dealt with the other points. The question that needs to be answered in regard to the first three points is: are those the only meanings for those words?
Point 4 - Matthew 28:1
     /resurrection-morning
Point 5 - Luke 23:54
     /joseph-of-arimathaea
Point 6 - Offerings
     /sacrificial-offerings
Point 7 Noah's Daughters
     - not done yet
Point 8 - Strong's Definition of "day"
     - not done yet
Point 9 - Passover
     - not done yet
Point 10 - Day of Atonement
     - not done yet
Point 11 - Afflict Early
     - not done yet
Point 12 - Historical Evidence
     - not done yet
Point 13 - Logic?
     - not done yet
 


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